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Benefit Definition: Draft PMB definition for metastatic
colon and rectal cancer
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Draft PMB definition guideline for metastatic colon and rectal cancer
The metastatic stage colon and rectal cancer benefit definition has been developed for the majority of
standard patients. These benefits may not be sufficient for outlier patients. Therefore Regulation 15(h) and
15(I) may be applied for patients who are inadequately managed by the stated benefits. The benefit
definition does not describe specific in-hospital management such as theatre, anaesthetists, anaesthetist
drugs and nursing care. However, these interventions form part of care and are prescribed minimum
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Draft PMB definition guideline for metastatic colon and rectal cancer
Table of Contents
1. Introduction ………………................................................................................................................5
2. Scope and purpose…........................................................................................................ ..............5
3. Epidemiology and burden of Disease.............................................................................................6
4. Investigation, diagnosis and staging ………………………………………………..............................7
5. Treatment options for metastatic stage colon and rectal cancer.....................................................9
6. Follow up Care ………………........................................................................................................13
7. References….................................................................................................................................15
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Draft PMB definition guideline for metastatic colon and rectal cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma
CA 19-9
Cancer Antigen 19-9
Council for Medical Schemes
Carcinoembryonic antigen
Colorectal cancer
Computed tomography
Disability-Adjusted Life Year
Diagnosis treatment pairs
Full Blood Count
International Classification of Diseases
Liver Function Test
Magnetic resonance imaging
Positron emission tomography
Prescribed minimum benefit
Radiation Therapy
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Service Level Indicators
95% UI
“uncertainty interval” replaces the confidence intervals in interpretations
World Health Organization
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Draft PMB definition guideline for metastatic colon and rectal cancer
1.1. The legislation governing the provision of the prescribed minimum benefits (PMBs) is contained in the
Regulations enacted under the Medical Schemes Act, 131 of 1998 (the Act). In respect of some of the
diagnosis treatment pairs (DTPs), medical scheme beneficiaries sometimes find it difficult to know their
entitlements in advance. Medical schemes also interpret these benefits differently, resulting in a lack of
uniformity of benefit entitlements.
1.2. The benefit definition project is coordinated by the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) and aims to define
the PMB package as well as to guide the interpretation of the PMB provisions by relevant stakeholders.
Scope and purpose
2.1. This is a recommendation for the diagnosis, treatment and care of individuals with metastatic colorectal
cancer in any clinically appropriate setting as outlined in the Act.
2.2 The purpose is to improve clarity in respect of funding decisions by medical schemes, taking into
consideration evidence based medicine, affordability and in some instances cost-effectiveness
Table 1: Possible ICD10 codes for identifying metastatic stage colon and rectal cancer
ICD 10 code
WHO description
Malignant neoplasm, overlapping lesion of small intestine
Malignant neoplasm, small intestine, unspecified
Malignant neoplasm of cecum
Malignant neoplasm of appendix
Malignant neoplasm of ascending colon
Malignant neoplasm of hepatic flexure
Malignant neoplasm of transverse colon
Malignant neoplasm of splenic flexure
Malignant neoplasm of descending colon
Malignant neoplasm of sigmoid colon
Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of colon
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Draft PMB definition guideline for metastatic colon and rectal cancer
Malignant neoplasm of colon, unspecified
Malignant neoplasm of rectosigmoid junction
Malignant neoplasm of rectum
Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of rectum, anus and anal canal
Malignant neoplasm, intestinal tract, part unspecified
Malignant neoplasm, overlapping lesion of digestive system
Malignant neoplasm, ill-defined sites within the digestive system
Malignant neoplasm, abdomen
Carcinoma in situ colon
Carcinoma in situ rectosigmoid junction
Carcinoma in situ rectum
Carcinoma in situ other and unspecified parts of intestine
3. Epidemiology
3.1. Cancer of the colon and cancer of the rectum are collectively known as colorectal cancer (CRC). In some
instances the cancer is referred to as bowel cancer. (1) Colorectal cancer is a major cause of morbidity
and mortality throughout the world. (1-4). It is the third most common cancer worldwide, and the fourth
most common cause of death. (1-10)
3.2. Worldwide, colorectal cancer represents 9.4% of all incident cancer in men and 10.1% in women. (3)
Globally, and for countries with high Service Level Indicators (SDI), colon and rectum cancer are ranked
third for cancer incidence, and second for cancer deaths in 2015. (2) In South Africa, colon cancer is
ranked as the fifth most frequent. (2)
In 2015, there were 1.7 million (95% UI, 1.6-1.7 million) incident cases of colon and rectum cancer, and
it caused 832 000 (95% UI, 812 000-855 000) deaths. Colon and rectum cancer caused 17 million (95%
UI, 16.6-17.5 million) DALYs in 2015. The odds of developing colon and rectum cancer before age 79
years at the global level was higher for men than for women (1 in 28 men, 1 in 43 women). This pattern
followed the developed versus developing countries, patterns. (2)
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Draft PMB definition guideline for metastatic colon and rectal cancer
In South Africa the epidemiology of CRC in white South Africans appears to follow the classic Western
trend, although the molecular pathology has not been comprehensively investigated. CRC among black
South Africans is far less common, but there is evidence that numbers have been increasing in some
centres. Furthermore, disproportionately large numbers of young black patients seem to be presenting
with CRC, a trend which appears to be common among countries throughout the African continent. (11)
In a study by Cronje et. al in South Africa, of young patients (<50 years) about 41% were black and 10%
were white , blacks had predominantly proximal tumours and significantly more poorly differentiated
and/or mucinous tumours, and loss of mismatch repair protein expression was more evident than in
whites. It seemed likely that CRC in young blacks develops through the accumulation of mutations, most
probably via mismatch repair deficiency or promoter methylation, which in turn is linked to poor
differentiation and a mucinous architecture. (11)
Approximately 20% of patients with CRC already have metastases at diagnosis, and this figure has
been stable over the last two decades. (12) With the help of continuous developments in CRC
treatment, survival rates have improved.
4. Investigation, diagnosis and staging of metastatic colorectal cancer
4.1. Consultation and clinical examination is covered as a PMB level of care.
4.2. Full blood count (FBC), is part of the laboratory investigations. An FBC measures the number of red
cells, white cells and platelets, which are important for measuring the blood status of the patient. FBC is
PMB level of care and considered an important tool, but should not be relied on, alone, to diagnose
4.3. The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test, is recommended as a baseline measure and funded as
PMB. The test measures the amount of protein that may appear in the blood of some people who have
certain types of cancers, especially cancer of the large intestine (colon and rectal cancer). CEA
examination is administered as a baseline measure. It is not diagnostic but considered a tumour marker.
CEA levels do have value in the follow-up of patients with diagnosed CRC, and therefore aid in surgical
treatment planning, post treatment follow-up and in the assessment of prognosis. A single positive CEA
does not equate to a diagnosis of colorectal cancer and therefore does not qualify for advanced staging
investigations. Further diagnostic studies are warranted. (24,25)
4.4. The Liver function tests (LFT) are PMB level of care. There is however no diagnostic role for liver
function tests, because they lack sensitivity for detection of liver metastases. Although frequently
obtained preoperatively, liver enzymes may be normal in the setting of small hepatic metastases and
are not a reliable marker for exclusion of liver involvement. (15)
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Draft PMB definition guideline for metastatic colon and rectal cancer
4.5. Renal function test for colon and rectal cancer are routine blood tests, and form part of the pathology
investigations to assess organ function. (16)
4.6. It is standard practice at most institutions that all patients with stage II, III, or IV colorectal cancer undergo
chest, abdomen, and pelvic CT. It is preferable to obtain these scans prior to, rather than after surgery,
as the scan results may occasionally change surgical planning.(15)
4.7. Abdominal ultrasound presents high sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative
predictive value (NPV) in the detection of colon cancer. The ultrasound may be done to see whether
bowel cancer has spread to the liver. (14)
4.8. Primovist contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the liver can identify more hepatic
lesions than are visualized by CT. Liver MRI is generally reserved for patients who have suspicious but
not definitive findings on CT scan, particularly if better definition of hepatic disease burden is needed in
order to make decisions about potential hepatic resection. An MRI liver with primovist contrast is PMB
level of care on specialist motivation only. (14-17,19)
4.9. A biopsy is usually done during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to remove polyps (polypectomy) or small
amounts of tissue from the colon or rectum. A core biopsy may be used to collect samples from organs
where the cancer may have spread, such as the liver.
4.10. CT-guided or non CT-guided biopsy are PMB level of care. The biopsy may help determine whether
the cancer began at the site of the biopsy, or whether it developed somewhere else and spread to the
biopsy site. (20)
4.11. A fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-positron emission tomography (PET)] is inferior to MRI for liver
metastases, PET scans are considered to be more accurate for distant metastases and especially useful
in detecting lung metastases. (PET) CT scan is considered PMB level of care on motivation only.
Simultaneous imaging with a CT chest and a PET scan is not PMB level of care. (18,22)
4.12. Colonoscopy with stenting is a considered to be PMB level of care. (24)Confirmation of tumour origin
includes both histological assessment as well as cytological assay. The confirmation of diagnosis is only
given by laboratory analysis of the tumour and tissues affected (histopathology).
Table 2: Summary of PMB benefits for diagnosis and staging of metastatic colon and rectal cancer
Clinical assessment
Full Blood Count (FBC)
Liver function tests
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Draft PMB definition guideline for metastatic colon and rectal cancer
Renal function tests
Imaging: Radiology
CT chest
CT chest , abdomen and pelvis
Ultrasound of abdomen
MRI liver with primovist contrast**
CT guided biopsy
Non CT guided biopsy
Imaging : Procedures
Colonoscopy with stenting
Histology assessment
Histology/ cytology
**Require specialist motivation
5. Treatment options
Several treatment options can be used, depending on severity, to treat advanced/metastatic cancer of the colon
and rectum. These include:
Surgical management
Radiation therapy
Surgical management
5.1.1. Deciding if surgery is an option in metastatic colorectal cancer depends on the severity of the
5.1.2. The surgical options will be split into palliative procedures and definitive procedures.
5.1.3. The following palliative procedures are PMB level of care: Segmental colectomy and primary anastomosis - A colectomy that involves removing
a segment of the colon is called a segmental colectomy, and it may be labelled a
hemicolectomy to differentiate the right and left halves of the large intestine. (28,30) Segmental colectomy and end colostomy - End sigmoid colostomy with a Hartmann's
pouch is the procedure of choice when permanent fecal diversion is required. (30)
Defunctioning Colostomy - A defunctioning stoma is basically an opening in the
bowel which is brought up to the abdominal surface, to divert the contents of the
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Draft PMB definition guideline for metastatic colon and rectal cancer
bowel away from its normal passage through the bowel and anus. Waste products
will leave the body through a stoma. (30)
Colonoscopy and Stenting CT Colonography - This is a safe and effective method
for preoperative examination of the proximal colon after metallic stent placement in
patients with acute colon obstruction caused by cancer. Colonic stent placement is
also useful as a palliative treatment for the patient with obstructive carcinoma of the
left colon who is not a surgical candidate. (31-33)
5.1.4 The following definitive procedures are PMB level of care:
Segmental colectomy (with either primary anastomsosis or end colostomy) PLUS
excision of metastases (this may entail liver or lung resection or both). (31-33)This
will require special motivation. Local ablation therapy for metastatic lesions .This may also be combined with a
segmental resection. (31-33). The procedure requires specialist motivation.
5.2.1. Medications and or regimens for metastatic colorectal cancer chemotherapy options are for both
the first, and subsequent lines.
5.2.2. Second-Line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer is indicated if the colorectal cancer
continues to grow despite chemotherapy. It is also indicated if the cancer progresses after an
initial response to the first-line chemotherapy regimen. The choice of second-line treatment
typically depends on the regimen that was given originally. It is probably more important for the
person to be exposed to all the available chemotherapy drugs at some point during the course
of treatment, than to give the drugs in a specific order. This is because survival may be prolonged
by second-line (as well as third-line) therapy. (16, 34, 35)
Table 3: Chemotherapy options in metastatic colorectal cancer
Regimen names
Colorectal metastatic first and Oxaliplatin
subsequent lines
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Radiation therapy in metastatic colorectal cancer
5.3.1. Radiotherapy should be considered (possibly combined with chemotherapy) for patients with
metastatic rectal cancer to alleviate symptoms from the primary tumor. (16)
5.3.2. Radiotherapy can also be used to relieve symptoms caused by metastases in the bones.
5.3.3. Radiotherapy can provide safe, cost-effective, efficient palliation of various symptoms of
advanced cancer with minimal side effects. Radiotherapy can palliate pain related to bone
metastases and growing visceral metastases or primary cancers, neurologic symptoms related
to brain and spine metastases, other symptoms including cough and dyspnoea from advanced
cancers in the lung, bleeding from various internal and external tumors, and obstructive
symptoms. (36-37)
5.3.4. Radiotherapy should balance the convenience and side effects associated with short,
hypofractionated courses of radiotherapy, with the potential greater durability associated with
longer courses of radiotherapy in patients with more prolonged life expectancies. (36-37)
Table 4: Radiation therapy in metastatic colorectal cancer
Conventional Radiation therapy
Palliation: 1#: conventional single volume / Conventional multiple volumes
Palliation: 5#: conventional single volume / Conventional multiple volumes
Palliation: 10#: conventional single volume / Conventional multiple volumes
Short course palliative RT
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Draft PMB definition guideline for metastatic colon and rectal cancer
Follow up care
Table 5 below shows recommended interventions and the corresponding frequencies up to 10 years post diagnosis.
Table 5: Frequency of interventions considered to be PMB level of care in metastatic colon and rectal cancer during therapy and up to 10 years post diagnosis.
(38, 39)
Frequency during therapy
Up to 2 years post 3-10 years post diagnosis Recurrent work up – only if there is
suspicion of disease recurrence
Frequency per year
Full blood count (FBC)
Liver function test
Renal function
CT study of the chest,
MRI – liver or rectum
Only if positive CT
abdomen and pelvis
# - CEA levels are typically high in people with advanced colorectal cancer; persistently rising CEA levels suggest that disease is progressing and a change in therapy is
warranted. However, a rising CEA alone is not sufficient evidence to prompt a change in treatment. Disease progression should be confirmed with radiographic testing (e.g., CT
scan) or a biopsy before changing treatment.
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This guideline will be due for update on 31 December 2018
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